It was a disappointing blow when Laurent Koscielny was taken off at half time against Leicester City, especially as Gabriel Paulista was a worrying absence. Thankfully Arsene Wenger has delivered some fantastic news though, with the revelation that his compatriot is coming on well in training and should be fit soon, as reported by the Metro.
With Gabriel yet to be given a return date, being without Koscielny as well would be a huge disappointment. The fact that the Frenchman is already well on his way to being back in action is a massive boon though, and hopefully he’ll be back for our Champions League clash with Barcelona.
“Koscielny is doing well,” said Wenger.
“He had a test this morning and he looks positive.”
While Wenger doesn’t explicitly mention Barcelona, the Metro suggests he’ll be fit for the huge Champions League fixture. We really can’t afford to be without him for any length of time, so this is certainly fantastic news.
Not only is Koscielny a massive part of our setup and unquestionably our best central defender, being without him would have knock on effects in other areas of the pitch. Being without both Koscielny and Gabriel means Per Mertesacker and Calum Chambers are our only options centrally – not the most mobile duo – which would then leave us struggling for options at right-back, which would put a massive amount of pressure on Hector Bellerin. If the Spaniard were to get injured… it doesn’t even bear thinking about.
Many fans are fearing the deployment of Mertesacker against Barcelona, believing that his lack of pace will leave him totally exposed to the pace of Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Lionel Messi. The German may actually be perfect for the game though, as we are likely to concede possession to the Spaniards, consequently sit deep for much of the game, leaving no space in behind and playing right into Mertesacker’s hands. His lack of pace is often hugely detrimental, but he makes up for it with excellently timed tackles (Chelsea aside) and superb positioning.
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It would be fantastic to see the partnership of Koscielny and Mertesacker reunited for Barcelona, so hopefully the former is fully fit by then.